NFC Notes: A. Lynch, C. Johnson, Cook, Best

Linebacker Aaron Lynch‘s four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy will not only put a cap on his 2016 production, but make an long-term extension with the 49ers increasingly unlikely, according to Matt Maiocco of The 23-year-old Lynch, considered perhaps the best edge rusher on San Francisco’s roster, is a building block on a club that isn’t expected to win many games during the upcoming season. He’ll be eligible for a new deal after the 2016 campaign, but general manager Trent Baalke & Co. will likely want to ensure that Lynch can be trusted before locking him up for the long haul, per Maiocco.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • After being released and re-signed by the Panthers, defensive end Charles Johnson admits this is something of a make-or-break year. “Of course,” Johnson told Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. “I’ve got to prove myself, right? I’m only signed to a one-year deal, so I got to go out and prove myself.” Carolina saved $8MM by cutting and re-signing Johnson earlier this year, lowering his base salary from a scheduled $11M down to $3MM. Though he played in only nine games in 2015 and posted just a single sack, Johnson was also hampered by injury, so his performance can be somewhat excused. Johnson isn’t exactly washed up, either, as he’s still under 30 years old, and averaged 11 sacks per season from 2012-14.
  • Packers general manager Ted Thompson went outside his comfort zone and signed an external free agent this offseason, inking tight end Jared Cook after he was released by the Rams, and Aaron Rodgers is hoping Cook and incumbent Richard Rogers can form a lethal combination. “We haven’t figured that out yet,” Rodgers told Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel“Obviously we haven’t even put the pads on, so we’re just trying to work through it. Obviously when you have two tight ends on the field it creates a matchup problem, so we’ll see where that goes.” Cook, who has never appeared in a playoff game during his NFL career, signed a one-year, $2.75MM deal with Green Bay that contains $900K in incentives.
  • Former Lions running back Jahvid Best will compete in the Summer Olympics as a member of Saint Lucia’s track team, write Nick Zaccardi and Seth Rubinroit of NBC Sports. Best, who holds dual citizenship and has a Saint Lucian father, will become the first athlete with NFL experience to compete in the Summer Games. Former NFLer Herschel Walker participated in the 1982 Winter Olympics, while Patriots safety Nate Ebner could join Best this summer, as he’s trying out for the U.S. rugby squad.
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